Southern African News Features                                           SANF 10 No 48, Dec 2010
DRC raises African flag higher

Southern Africa and the entire African continent is basking in glory following the historic qualification of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the 2010 Soccer World Cup Club Finals currently underway in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

African soccer giants, Tout Puissant Mazembe (TP Mazembe) of the DRC stormed into the finals after overcoming South American champions, Internacional of Brazil.

TP Mazembe becomes the first African team to achieve such a feat. In the 10-year history of the competition only two continents -- Europe and South America have reached the tournament’s finals.

Speaking soon after the famous victory, TP Mazembe coach Lamine N’Diaye dedicated the win to Africa saying "African pride won."

"This is something special because we represent Africa and all of Africa is proud of the work we have done here," he said.

"We did not doubt ourselves. We were confident and it is a day of happiness for all of us. This is good for us and for DRC and all Africans should be proud of this team."

He said the achievement would ensure that Africa gets the "footballing respect it deserves," particularly as the triumph follows yet another outstanding show by Ghana at the recent 2010 Soccer World Cup finals held in South Africa in June-July.

"Ghana did well at the World Cup finals and they employed some good tactics in the tournament," he said.

"This match showed that it is time for the world to take us (Africa) seriously and believe in the ability of Africa."

Despite being on the losing side, Internacional coach Celso Roth was among the first to pay tribute to TP Mazembe and African football.

"It was time for Africa to reach the final and unfortunately it has been at our expense. There is no dishonour in that -- African football is improving all the time and I do not see anything shameful in losing to an African team."

TP Mazembe beat Internacional two-nil to reach the finals scheduled for Saturday. Mulota Kabangu and Dioko Kaluyituka scored one each to send the African giants into the finals.

The win caps a good year for African football as the continent also held a successful World Cup tournament in South Africa early this year.

The 2010 World Cup final in South Africa was the first to be held on African soil and saw the continent showcasing among other things its tourism potential and vast investment opportunities.

Out of the six African representatives - Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and the host South Africa only one - Ghana excelled in the competition.

While the Ghanaian national team failed to qualify for the semi-finals, they made history by becoming the third African team to reach the quarter finals.

Cameroon was the first to achieve this in the 1990 finals hosted by Italy. Senegal became the second to make it to the quarter finals in 2002 when South Korea and Japan co-hosted the event.

With such achievements realised by Africa in 2010 expectations are now high that the future looks bright for the continent and that one day Africa will get the grand prize.

That day could be Saturday when TP Mazembe heads into the World Cup Club finals against European champions Inter Milan of Italy, who beat Asian champions Seongnam Iihwa of South Korea in the other semi-final.

sardc.net Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region.

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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